Kyan Klinger 200-yard

Ketchikan High School junior Kyan Klinger competes in the boys 200-yard individual medley on Sept. 26 during a virtual swim meet at the Gateway Aquatic Center. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Before the Ketchikan High School swim and dive team jumped in the pool at the Gateway Aquatic Center on Saturday, head coach Gary Crowe had a message for his squad — to swim as fast they could.

“‘You’re swimming through the hardest part of the season,’” he said. “‘Try to go as fast as you can when you’re tired. That will give us a chance to improve a lot when we get down to the end of the season.’”

Always maintaining focus on end-of-the-year performance, Crowe was hoping Kayhi would push even faster on Saturday, than it did on Friday this weekend.

That’s how the regional championships work. Swimming well on Day 1, gets a competitor to Day 2. But Day 2 is for all the marbles.

“What we were shooting for, was we were trying to see if they could (go) faster today, than what they did (on Friday),” Crowe said following Saturday’s competition. “They have to get used to swimming Friday for regionals, and then getting back and swimming faster on Saturday because that’s when it counts (for the championships).”

So just like their coach wanted them to, the Kings and Lady Kings pushed even harder during Saturday’s virtual competition.

The swim and dive team was participating in a virtual meet hosted by Petersburg this weekend, along with several other schools throughout Southeast, including Juenau-Douglas, Thunder Mountain and Sitka. Teams participated virtually at their home pools because of the novel coronavirus.

Swim times and diving scores will be submitted and compiled together later this week for final results.

“I think it was a good meet,” Crowe said. “It was good to just get a meet in. That’s the main thing.”

Several swimmers dropped time, and set personal bests.

Kayhi freshman Trevor Dash swam the 100-yard butterfly in 59 seconds. It was his first time finishing the race in less than a minute.

Dash also completed the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:06, which is just one second shy of the regional winner’s time last season.

“Last year, 1:05 won regionals for the boys, so that gives him a shot at doing something like that,” Crowe said.

Ian Eldridge also knocked down a pair of personal records in succession.

“(He) had a best time in the 500(-yard freestyle), and then came back and swam a 50(-yard) free right after it in the relay and had a best time split,” Crowe said. “So that was good.”

For the past couple weeks, Kayhi has focused its practices on turns, and breakouts — or pushing off the wall, and taking the first few strokes.

Crowe and his coaching staff also has worked with the team on swimming in straight lines, which is different than practices.

“In practice — because you’ve got so many people — you have to swim in a circle (within the lane lines),” he said. “We’re trying to swim straight up and down the line because that’s a shorter distance than (circle swims).

“Some do it. Some start to do it, and then (their) memory takes over and they (circle swim),” Crowe continued. “So we have some work (to do) on it.”

That said, the veteran head coach was pleased with how the team looked, compared to two weeks ago when Kayhi competed in its first virtual meet.

“We had a lot of improved swims from two weeks ago,” Crowe said. “They’re looking better in their strokes.”

Swimming wasn’t the only event setting personal bests, as all six divers on the roster set personal records, as well.

This weekend also was the first time in several years Kayhi had boys on the diving team.

“Everybody did really well today,” Kayhi diving coach Eryn Brooks said Saturday. “All three girls got personal best scores. And the boys, being their (first time competing) — they dove (Friday) and today — they improved over (Friday).”

Kayhi’s Jenna Smith, Paris Knuteson and Emily Bolling recorded personal records. Smith received high marks from the judges, including several 5.5’s and 6.0’s to helped boost her score.

Boys’ divers Everr Kistler, Talen Stout and Killian Connolly had three dives apiece in their first meet.

“I think that was a good beginning (for them),” Crowe said.

Competing virtually in diving competitions makes it difficult to judge opposing teams. Each school will receive only the final scores from other diving squads, without knowing what dives were attempted.

So the degree of difficulty — or how advanced a diver might be — is hard to see.

But so far, Kayhi has been focusing on itself.

“It’s been crazy (at practices) because there are so many (on the diving squad), compared to what I’ve had the last couple of years,” Brooks said. “But overall, we’re making progress so that’s good. ... They all did very well today.”

Notes: Complete results from this weekend’s swim and dive meet won’t be available for another few days — until all of the times and scores are submitted from each of the participating schools and tallied together. They will be published in a forthcoming issue.